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San Antonio Probate Blog

Without a will, does the spouse or kids inherit property?

These days, more people are understanding the importance of estate planning. Of course, not every person creates the necessary documents to ensure that their loved ones know their end-of-life wishes. As a result, many people have to go through the probate process after a loved one's death without instruction from the decedent.

Dying without a will is known as dying intestate. This means that the estate must follow Texas state law when it comes to distributing the person's assets. Many surviving family members may have concerns over this type of distribution as they may think they are entitled to certain property. However, state law will generally distribute assets to the closest living relatives, though certain circumstances may dictate the order of distribution.

Do you suspect that a trustee has committed wrongdoing?

Your loved one may have taken the useful steps of creating an estate plan. After his or her passing, you received information regarding a trust to which your family member named you a beneficiary. At the time you felt pleased that your loved one thought of you when bequeathing the assets.

Initially, you may not have had too much information regarding how trusts work. However, you came to understand the role of the trustee, and you knew that he or she had a duty to ensure that the terms of the trust were carried out properly. More recently, you have grown concerned over whether the trustee has upheld the fiduciary duty associated with the role.

Excluding a loved one from a will could affect probate

Throughout life, many Texas residents may have had difficult relationships with their loved ones. As a result, they may consider leaving a family member out of the will or otherwise excluding them from receiving anything from the estates after their passing. While this is certainly an option for anyone, it may bring about concerns over the probate process.

When excluding a person from receiving any assets from an estate, some parties may want to give a reason for this exclusion. This information could be included in a will, but it is not entirely necessary. In fact, providing a reason could give cause for the excluded person to challenge that reason in hopes of receiving assets to which he or she feels entitled.

Without an estate plan, probate can become more complicated

Being an adult child can come with many responsibilities. Aside from caring for their own children, many Texas residents may also find themselves taking on a caretaker role for their parents. In particular, they may hope that their parents have created estate plans that will help with the probate process when that time comes. Of course, the idea of making a plan may be met with some resistance.

Some parents may not think that this step is necessary due to the small size of their estates. However, not having a plan is one of the biggest estate planning mistakes. When there is no plan in place, surviving family members will have to contend with the fact that assets will be distributed through intestate laws, which generally mean that property will go to the closest surviving relatives.

A copy of a will may be requested after it is filed for probate

A person's will can play an important role in many affairs after his or her death. Some surviving loved ones may want to know the contents of the will as soon as possible after the death. However, the will only becomes a part of the public record after it has been filed with the court for probate. After this has taken place, individuals could request a copy.

In order to request a copy, parties will first need to determine where it was filed. As part of starting the probate process, the document should have been filed in the Texas county where the decedent lived. After finding the right court, interested individuals could go in person to request a copy or provide a written request. The interested parties may also need to pay a copying fee and possibly provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope if the document needs to be mailed.

Your options for challenging a will are limited

When faced with the shock of losing a loved one, you may be doubly confounded to learn that your loved one excluded you from the will or that your share of the estate is considerably smaller than what you expected to inherit. Perhaps the deceased made a point to tell you that he or she had included you in the will, but you learned after his or her death that your loved one had written a new will leaving you out.

These are not unusual circumstances, and people are disappointed by the estate plans of their loved ones every day. You may wonder if you have the right to challenge the will, and under certain circumstances, you may have a valid cause.

Adult kids and parents may want to discuss estate planning

Many Texas residents may have already considered many aspects of their own estate plans. During this time, they may have wondered whether their parents had given any thought to estate planning. If the subject has never been discussed, adult children may want to talk about with their parents about their end-of-life wishes.

Whether a parent already has a plan and has not disclosed the information to the kids or no plan is in place, this discussion can still be important. If children do not know what their parents' wishes are, they may not know how to make important decisions when the time comes. Of course, it can be difficult to have this type of conversation, and it may be in everyone's best interests to leave judgment out of the conversation as each person likely has his or her own views on how affairs should be handled.

Bourdain will submitted to court for probate

After a person's death, there is much that needs to be done. In particular, the probate process needs completing along with any other necessary actions to close the estate. In best cases, the deceased individual will have created a will or other estate planning documents that will help the process go more smoothly.

Texas residents may be interested in the information that late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain left behind in his estate plan. Apparently, Bourdain's estate was estimated at approximately $1.2 million, and he left the majority of the estate to his 11-year-old daughter. A breakdown of his assets showed $500,000 in royalties and similar payouts from his television work, $35,000 in brokerage accounts, $250,000 in personal property, and $425,000 in savings and cash.

Glen Campbell estate facing probate litigation

Families in Texas and elsewhere often face issues among themselves and with others. In some cases, children and parents can become estranged, and after a parent passes, issues could arise if surviving children believe that there are problems with the will or inheritances in general. Some parents may even disinherit children, but that may not prevent probate litigation.

It was recently reported that the estate of late country singer Glen Campbell is currently facing this type of situation. The administrator of the estate has apparently been unable to complete many of the necessary probate-related duties due to the conflict within the family. A court order prevented the administrator from moving forward, and he is currently working to reverse that order in efforts to obtain professional assistance in determining the value of the estate and applicable royalties.

A letter of intent may play a role in estate planning

Making plans can have many benefits. When it comes to estate planning, Texas residents can let their families know important information that will need taking into account after their deaths. However, in order to have comprehensive plans, individuals may want to make sure that they utilize the right planning tools.

Certainly, a will has its place in the majority of estate plans. This document can allow parties to detail how they want their final affairs handled after they pass. They can also utilize other documents like health care directives to address how medical situations should be handled and trusts to give further protection and instruction in regard to asset distribution. This information can often help surviving loved ones feel more in control during the end of a person's life and after his or her demise.

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC
909 NE Loop 410
Suite 602
San Antonio, TX 78209

Phone: 210-418-1150
Fax: 210-598-7221

909 NE Loop 410 Suite 602
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